The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

UK release date: 8 August 2008

cast list

Brendan Fraser
Jet Li
John Hanna
Maria Bello

directed by
Rob Cohen
The first Mummy movie mixed Indiana Jones-style action with CGI and a few sharp one-liners to entertaining effect: by film three, has the magic finally died?

The plot begins with the OConnells having hung up their guns, enjoying a life of stultifying tedium in rural England. But their son Alex (Luke Ford) has uncovered the tomb of the fabled Dragon Emperor (Jet Li) and, before you know it, the entire world is in danger from another mummy with superhuman powers on a mission of world domination. Soon, Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evy (Maria Bello) are off to China on one last mission.

Fraser (Gods and Monsters, Crash) is on good if predictable form as a man itching to get back into the action, but at certain points he clearly looks as tired as this franchise. Bello (The Cooler, A History of Violence) gives a passable turn as his archaeologist wife, but the inevitable comparison to the absent Rachel Weisz is unfavourable and she and Fraser just dont have the on-screen chemistry that was such a winning factor in the previous movies.

Ford overdoes the young Indiana Jones routine as the rebellious offspring trying to prove something and simply isnt young enough to credibly play the 21 year old son of parents who dont look old enough to have a kid that age anyway. John Hannah (Four Weddings and a Funeral) reprises his role as Evys unreliable brother Jonathan: The character was always on the lighter side, but its a shame to see him shamelessly relegated to the comic relief slot.

Li (The Forbidden Kingdom) spends most of the film in assorted animated guises, but even so manages to bring some much needed gravitas and life to the action. Michelle Yeoh (Memoirs of a Geisha) adds a touch of class that the film simply doesnt deserve as the immortal sorceress Zi Yuan who cursed the emperor for her lovers murder. Isabella Leong (Mon seung) gives a winning performance as Lin, the love interest for Ford and Yeohs immortal daughter.

The final result is a rather unpleasant collision of two different films. The Chinese semi-mythological epic with Li, Yeoh and Leong et al could have been an absolute belter, and the American action flick with Fraser, Bello and Ford could have at least been more straight-to-video than straight-to-taped-over.

To lay all the blame on the cast is unfair as the dialogue is dire and the film moves with such fast pace disregard for the performances that any major character moments are blown away like a haystack in a hurricane. The reuniting of Zi Yuan and Lin after 2,000 years might have brought a tear to the eye of the audience, except that if you blinked you would have missed it. Far more culpable is director Rob Cohen, whose previous efforts include xXx and The Fast and the Furious, and the CGI, which seems to drive the plot rather than being a means to an end, with the obvious result.

Thats not to say there arent some good moments, with the ninja-style Yetis who seem to be straight off a high school football team nearly steeling the show and a snuffle inducing death scene from Yeoh, but they are few and far between. However, if youre going to have to see this with your kids over the Summer never mind. It may be 112 minutes of your life youll never get back, but its so fast-paced you wont feel it.

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